GSW Legislative Goals 2017 – 2018
Our primary focus is to improve and protect existing survivor benefits and to eliminate benefit inequities. The Government Relations Committee proposes the following legislative priorities for the coming year.
1) Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) Increase:
The flat rate DIC has not been increased since 1993.Compared to other Federal survivor programs, DIC lags behind almost 12%. The current DIC flat rate is 43% of the compensation of a fully disabled single veteran.
Other Federal survivor programs provide a survivor annuity of 50-55% of retirement pay to the surviving spouse. We propose a 12% increase once or a “Sunset Provision” of 3% each for 10 years for DIC to become equitable with other Federal survivor programs. We are working on having a primary sponsor for a bill in the House and Senate.
2) Survivor Benefit Plan/DIC Offset (SBP/DIC Offset): We propose continued work on passage of the concurrent receipt of DIC
and SBP. We have bills in the current Congress (HR 846 and S 339) to amend Title 10, United States Code, to repeal the requirement of the SBP/DIC offset which is a dollar for dollar offset.
3) Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA): SSIA is scheduled to terminate May 31, 2018 which cause a deficit of $310 per month to the surviving families affected by the SBP/DIC offset. GSW is looking for a sponsor for a bill to further extension on SSIA unless SBP/DIC is repealed.
4) Change in the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. Federal Charter: US Code: Title 36>Subtitle II> Part B> Section 80507, Restrictions: (b) Political Activities. The corporation, or a director or officer as such may not contribute in any political activity or in any manner attempt to influence legislation. GSW wishes to eliminate the last few words of Section 80507 (b) “in any manner attempt to influence legislation.”
5) Eliminate The Remarriage Penalty for Younger Surviving Spouses:
To change current law that unfairly binds young surviving spouses to widowhood. If surviving spouses remarry before the age of 57 they forfeit lifesaving benefits afforded to them. Congressional research and surviving spouse experience shows age 57 is an arbitrary age that unfairly penalizes younger surviving spouses. There isn’t any specific rationale requiring surviving spouses to remain unmarried. Removing the remarriage limitation completely, especially the age limit on all benefits including Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), home loans, educational benefits, Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA), burial benefits, and Tri-care is needed.
Networking: We are fortunate to continue working with The Military Coalition (TMC) and Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) as well as representatives of the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Congressional representatives, their staff and the committee staff continue to be important in our efforts. These relationships enable us to better represent Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. in efforts to serve our membership effectively.